Painting wind turbines may reduce bird collisions and deaths

August 27, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution shows that painting one blade on a wind turbine black may reduce bird deaths at wind farms by up to 70%. For a long time, organizations, such as the Royal Society For The Protection of Birds (RSPB), have been championing for more care when it comes to setting up wind power plants to avoid the deaths of birds through collisions. This study could reveal a simple solution. Although wind farms provide one of the cleanest sources of energy , they are tainted by the effects of the turbines on birds. It is common for birds to collide with the turbines and die on the spot. The study now shows that if the blades of turbines are painted black, the rate of accidents could greatly decrease. The study was conducted off the coast of Norway; the location is home to the Smøla plant, where six to nine white-tailed eagles are killed annually. Related: US and Canada in drastic crisis with 3 billion birds lost since 1970 According to Roel May, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research and one of the authors of the study, wind power negatively impacts wild bird populations. “Collision of birds, especially raptors, is one of the main environmental concerns related to wind energy development,” May said. The main purpose of the study was to find out if there are any mitigating measures that could reduce the collisions. The researchers found that if one of the main rotor blades is painted black, it reduces the motion smear, making the blades visible to birds when they are in motion. While the findings are promising, the study authors warn that more research still has to be done. The new study provides a platform for more studies to explore the possibility of reducing bird deaths at renewable energy plants. “Although we found a significant drop in bird collision rates, its efficacy may well be site- and species-specific,” May explained. “At the moment there exists interest to carry out tests in the Netherlands and in South Africa.” Further studies will need to be carried out in diverse locations to determine the viability of such a move in different areas and on specific bird species. Members of RSPB are also championing for establishing wind power farms in safer locations, where there are no large populations of birds. + Ecology and Evolution Via BBC Image via Matthias Böckel

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Educational center in Russia has a wind turbine and rooftop solar panels

July 30, 2020 by  
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Located in the Russian village of Khryug in southern Dagestan, the Luminary Inspiration Center is a welcomed educational experience in a small town of just 2,000 residents. The idea for an interactive creative center was born thanks to a local charity foundation, which delivered computers to the village schools in an effort to bring the area up to national internet communication standards. The center has been open since mid-2018 and has always remained free-of-charge for kids between the ages of 10 and 17. By 2020, there were about 120 children regularly studying in the center, half from Khryug and the rest from neighboring villages. Related: Locally crafted children’s learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines One of the most compelling aspects of Luminary is its architecture, which is unlike anything else in the immediate region. Most of the children who frequent the center have never been outside of their villages, nor have they experienced anything outside of their own neighborhood’s common architecture. Luminary offers a chance for them to see mosaics of different styles and epochs as well as the combination of the traditional architecture of the area with contemporary black metal and glass elements. The educational center is located within a 2,500-square-meter property inside of an apple garden and includes a lecture hall designed with panoramic glass walls and an outdoor amphitheater for fresh-air learning during favorable weather. Inside, there is a wide range of educational spaces including an observatory, robotics and VR laboratories, a virtual planetarium, a cinema, a library and an artistic workshop. A peaceful, modern interior creates the perfect learning environment for studying and creative thinking. Sunlight-harvesting rooftop solar panels assist with the frequent power outages, so if the internet is lost at any time, it only takes 0.025 seconds for the solar battery to kick in. A large wind turbine in the garden powers the water fountain and provides a working example for a favorite student project — assembling a working wind turbine and solar power station in Luminary’s technological laboratory. + Archiproba Studios Photography by Alexei Kalabin via Archiproba Studios

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Educational center in Russia has a wind turbine and rooftop solar panels

IceWind demos new residential wind turbine in Texas

June 29, 2020 by  
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Residential micro wind turbines may one day become a popular way for people to produce their own power at home. Over the Fourth of July weekend, folks in Port Aransas Beach, Texas will be able to see a new Icelandic turbine in action during a special demo. The Icelandic renewable wind power company IceWind has invented this new home energy product. Home builder Daryl Losaw, IceWind’s San Marco, Texas-based investor, is excited to demo the tiny turbine to Texans. “We have a great story and showing off the turbines is the best way to tell it,” Losaw said in a press release. Unlike the horizontal axis wind turbines one sees at wind farms, IceWind’s new residential model sports vertical axes. Related: Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art IceWind has turned a decommissioned coal power plant in Reykjavik into its headquarters. The company is now in the final stages of development. “The concept is simple: We’re taking time tested technologies and bringing them into the modern era,” said IceWind CEO Saethor Asgeirsson. “Using super-strong materials such as aerospace-grade aluminum, carbon fiber, and high-grade stainless steel, our turbines are built to withstand anything.” This includes Iceland’s furious winds, which regularly surpass 50 mph during the island country’s dark and chilly wintertime. “It’s actually quite funny,” Asgeirsson said. “We are the only people in Iceland who get excited when there is crazy wind in the weather forecast. While everyone else is hunkering down at home, we’re huddled around a computer, excitedly watching our data feed.” IceWind has two product lines currently in development. In addition to the micro turbine for homes, the company is also working on a model to mount on telecom towers that will work in extreme arctic conditions. They’re already selling turbines in Iceland and plan to expand into the European and North American markets later this year. “I am looking forward to showing potential customers a rugged, bird-safe, micropower generation method, that represents independence from fossil fuels over this appropriate weekend,” said Losaw of the Port Aransas demo. “Hopefully, it will inspire beachgoers to look at energy in a new way.” + IceWind Images via IceWind

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Why Clif Bar created a multimillion-dollar fund to help farmers invest in resilience

April 1, 2019 by  
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The first focus: helping organics operations become hosts for wind turbines.

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SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient

February 19, 2019 by  
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French design practice Studio NAB has proposed a large-scale vertical farm as a sustainable solution to urban population growth in the face of dwindling arable land. Envisioned for urban centers, the conceptual vertical agriculture facility — dubbed the SUPERFARM — aims to produce high-yielding food with high nutrition values, including but not limited to various seaweeds, edible insects and fish raised in aquaponic systems. To minimize the SUPERFARM’s impact on the environment, the designers have also proposed that the futuristic indoor farming concept be powered entirely with renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels. Studio NAB created its SUPERFARM utopian architecture in response to the startling statistics put forth by Dickson Despommier, an emeritus professor of microbiology and public health at Columbia University. Considered a pioneer in vertical farming , Dr. Despommier authored the book The Problem , in which he proposed indoor urban agriculture as a sustainable alternative to traditional farming methods and a potential solution to feeding the world’s growing urban populations. “Vector for ecological transition, the ‘Superfarm’ project is part of a resilient and human-sensitive approach, paying attention to its health and its relations with food,” Studio NAB shares in its project statement. “Far from the traditional urban farm producing salads or other fruits and vegetables, the ‘Superfarm’ project, as its name suggests, focuses its production on the culture of foods with a high nutritional value that can be consumed in addition to a healthy diet, but also on foods likes fishes or honey.” Related: The GCC’s first commercial vertical farm launches in Dubai SUPERFARM is envisioned as a six-story building erected over water rather than land so as not to take away real estate that could otherwise be used for parkland. To fulfill the designers’ goal of reconnecting people to their food, the urban farm would also need to be located close to the consumers so that they can come directly to the farm. Studio NAB believes that because of the highly controlled indoor environment, no pesticides would be used in any of the farming operations. Moreover, water would be saved and recycled for energy efficiency. + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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Under one roof: How companies can simplify renewable energy development

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sponsored: Solar panels and wind turbines are only one part of the picture.

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General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK

April 24, 2018 by  
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General Electric just announced that it will begin testing the world’s largest wind turbine – the Haliade-X – at its facilities in Blyth, England. General Electric’s renewable energy department signed a five-year contract with the British government-funded Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) to begin trials of the 12-megawatt turbine. “This is an important agreement because it will enable us to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions,” GE Offshore Wind president and CEO John Lavelle said in a statement . The United Kingdom plans to rapidly develop its offshore wind capacity, with an estimated growth to 30 gigawatts by 2030 – five times greater than its current capacity. Speaking to Reuters , British energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry cited the contract between GE and OREC as a shining example of the country’s advanced research and testing facilities. The largest currently operational wind turbine is also in the United Kingdom ; MHI Vestas’ 9 MW turbines generate power in the Vattenfall wind farm off the shore of Aberdeen, Scotland . Related: GE develops hybrid jet engine and battery to supplement California renewables In addition to the formal approval of testing, the agreement includes funding from Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund to create the world’s most powerful grid emulation system at OREC’s Blyth headquarters. General Electric ‘s move to develop the largest turbine follows a general trend in the industry, in which producers are aiming to create the biggest turbines to reduce the cost of energy produced and to increase the amount of energy generated at each turbine. With money to be made, the future of wind energy looks to be bigger than ever. Via Reuters Images via GE and Depositphotos

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Cows could one day be the largest land mammals left because of human activity

April 24, 2018 by  
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The world’s biggest land mammal is the African bush elephant , which can be up to 13 feet tall and 24 feet long. But this elephant — and giraffes, hippos and other large animals — could go extinct because of human activity, leaving the domestic cow as the biggest terrestrial mammal in a couple centuries. In a recent study, researchers scrutinized large mammal extinction as humans spread, and their study is, according to the University of New Mexico , “the first to quantitatively show … that size selective extinction is a hallmark of human activities and not the norm in mammal evolution.” Thousands of years ago, the spread of archaic humans from Africa coincided with extinction of megafauna, or large mammals, like sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths, The Guardian reported. “One of the most surprising finds was that 125,000 years ago, the average body size of mammals on Africa was already 50 percent smaller than on other continents,” said Felisa Smith, professor at the University of New Mexico and lead author of the study. “We suspect this means that archaic humans and other hominins had already influenced mammal diversity and body size in the late-Pleistocene.” Related: The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya The researchers compiled extensive data around mammal body size, geographic location, climate and extinction status in the past 125,000 years and modeled diversity and body size distributions for the next 200 years. The study also found that in 65 million years, climate changes didn’t lead to more extinctions. “We suspect that in the past, shifts in climate led to adaptation and movement of animals, not extinction,” said co-author Jonathan Payne of Stanford University . “Of course, today ongoing climate change may result in extinction since most megafauna are limited in how far they can move.” Smith said we’re really just starting to appreciate megafauna’s crucial roles in ecosystems. “For example, as they walk, their massive size compacts the soil, which can lead to changes in gas exchange or water tables. … We are not entirely sure what the potential loss of these ‘ecosystem engineers’ could lead to,” he said. “I hope we never find out.” The journal Science published the research this month. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego and University of Nebraska-Lincoln also contributed. + University of New Mexico + Science Via The Guardian Images via Michael Pujals on Unsplash and the University of New Mexico

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‘Acoustic lighthouses’ could warn birds about wind turbines

March 14, 2018 by  
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Birds and humans don’t always co-exist peacefully — each year millions of the small animals fly into buildings, wind turbines , cell towers, and even planes. William & Mary behavioral biologist John Swaddle is working to translate understanding of bird behavior into technology that could hopefully save their lives, including an Acoustic Lighthouse that would guide birds around man-made structures. Here’s how an acoustic lighthouse might work: a directional speaker mounted on a structure like a wind turbine would project a sound warning birds. While flying, birds align their bodies on a horizontal plane for ideal aerodynamics, according to Swaddle . And as their eyes are on the sides of their heads, they’re looking down, not where they’re flying. The sound would essentially prompt them to slow down, and when slowing down, birds lower their tail feathers, moving their bodies “from the horizontal plane to a more vertical position,” according to William & Mary, so they can see the structure and soar around it. Swaddle said, “It’s a bit like someone texting while they’re driving. If you honk your horn at them, they’ll look up.” Related: Painting Wind Turbines Black Could Prevent Thousands of Bird Deaths Every Year “The fundamental knowledge of how birds behave and respond to sound helps us derive these new technologies and solutions,” said Swaddle. He’s also developed a concept called Sonic Nets, intended to disrupt gatherings of birds in places like airports, parking lots, or crop fields. Swaddle recently spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting on reducing strike risk between birds and wind turbines and airplanes , and protecting crops, through an understanding of bird behavior. The journal Integrative and Comparative Biology published a paper written by Swaddle and former William & Mary graduate student Nicole Ingrassia on the acoustic lighthouse concept in 2017. + William & Mary Via Science Magazine Images via DepositPhotos , William & Mary video screengrab

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Renewable energy could face tax problems in Republican compromise

December 19, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy advocates initially breathed a sigh of relief when the Republican tax bill reworked a provision that could have disrupted the industry’s $12 billion tax-equity market, Bloomberg reported . But a closer look reveals the bill includes what the publication described as “hidden pitfalls that could undercut its benefit.” Law firm Stoel Rives partner Greg Jenner told Bloomberg, “If Congress thought they were eliminating the trouble for renewables , they were wrong. It’s a question of how bad it will be.” Many solar and wind developers receive tax credits , and as they typically don’t have a big tax liability, third parties like insurance companies or banks will invest in their projects – basically in exchange for those credits, according to Bloomberg. The anxiety is over the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), a provision intended to close loopholes for companies including insurers and banks that remit money to affiliates overseas. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. American Council on Renewable Energy president Greg Wetstone said, “The BEAT program will make it harder to use the tax credits – even though it’s significantly improved from what we were presented with” in the Senate. The compromise would expand which companies face the BEAT tax, according to Bloomberg. And because companies won’t be sure if they are subject to a BEAT tax bill, they might not be willing to do a tax-equity deal with renewable energy developers. The compromise tax bill would let companies offset up to 80 percent of their foreign-transaction tax with renewable energy credits, per Bloomberg, but the 80 percent offset expires in 2025. Separately, there could be less demand for renewable energy tax credits if the overall corporate tax rate is trimmed down to 21 percent, according to Bloomberg. The publication said all these details mean there’s a lot of uncertainty in the $12 billion tax-equity market’s future. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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